Dually trucks are basically superhero pickups fitted with super strong engines with heavy-duty brakes, springs and shocks. They get their name from the dual back wheels on each side – similar to some of the bigger truck types. Originally, they were designed for construction work and for towing very large trailers such as horse trailers or large campers.
Dually owners have however experimented with these trucks, and have taken them off-road to see what they can do.
Considering the size and strength of these trucks, I did some research to find out if dually trucks are good off-road.
Dually trucks have advantages and disadvantages off-road. They are extremely powerful with excellent stability and grip, which will help you traverse tough inclines or uneven road surfaces. On the other hand, they are very bulky and thus difficult to maneuver in sharp turns and narrow roads. The dual back wheels can also cause problems in sand and mud.
There is a bit more to these monsters than is immediately visible to the eye. The section below discusses their strengths and weaknesses in more detail. We also consider what situations your dually is suited for, and not.
Dually strengths off-road
It is a fact that any dually owner will attest to, these trucks are as strong as anything. They come equipped with the meanest engines on the market in either diesel or gasoline and they can pull up to 31 000 lbs fully loaded.
This means that off-road, these trucks can pull a horse trailer up a slippery muddy slope with no effort. It can also pull a flatbed trailer, fully loaded, up the side of a waterlogged ditch. The pure strength of the engine and the extra grip of the double rear wheel is a real advantage in slippery situations, especially in 4WD.
In off-road situations, many choose to replace the dual rear wheels with a super single, which is much broader than the normal tire, for better grip in sand and snow. This enables the dually a grip and steering similar to a single rear wheel (SRW) truck. If you decide on a super single, you will unfortunately have to carry two different sized spare wheels – a spare super single and a spare front wheel.
All in all, if you have to pull a heavy weight over less than optimal terrain, the dually is the best thing for it. If you want to traverse narrow mountain roads, you may have to consider a SRW.
Dually weaknesses off-road
The main problem with a dually off-road is that they are big and bulky and cannot maneuver as well as a regular Single Rear Wheel (SRW) truck. If you are considering taking on a narrow mountain path, the dually is definitely not the off-roader for the job.
When driving on sand and snow, a SRW relies on the front wheels digging a track for the rear wheel to run in, which makes driving in these substrates easier. With a dually, the front wheel makes one track, which the inside double rear wheel falls into, but the outer wheel still has to make its own track.
Additionally, if you are pulling trailer, it will slip and slide off the ridge made in the sand or snow by the double rear wheels. This makes driving with a trailer very uncomfortable. Some dually owners remove the outer back wheels when driving on sand, which makes a lot more sense and may help overcome this problem.
These beasts also do not come with an exceptional ground clearance. Any off-roader will know that clearance is your saving grace on very tough terrain, and getting wedged stuck with a dually is a big problem purely because they are so heavy.
Having said this, the fact is that dually trucks tend to go just about anywhere. They are often used as fire department bush trucks, specifically because the can go just about anywhere. The choice may just be up to you, and depending how adventurous you want to be with your off-roader, a dually may just be the perfect one for you.
Five best dually trucks of 2020
- Ford F-450 Super Duty
This truck boasts Super Duty 6.7L engine with turbocharger that produces 440HP and a 31 200 lbs towing capacity. It is the strongest dually on the market at the moment, and with its modern and sleek looks and comfortable interior, it is the choice of many truck owners.
Its only drawback is the price and fuel efficiency, but these are general drawbacks of any dually truck.
- Ford F-350 Super Duty
This truck is comparable to the F-450 in every way. It comes with a Super Duty 6.7L engine with turbocharger that produces 440HP and a 26 500 lbs towing capacity. You can also opt for the cheaper 365HP engine, but you will lose some much needed power and torque.
- RAM 3500HD
The RAM 3500HD comes in at 3rd place and is considered one of the most popular trucks currently in use due to its tremendous power and good price. You can choose from a variety of engines to best suit your price, but the best value is offered by the 410HP with 930 lb-ft of torque. It has a towing capacity of 30 000 lbs, just below the F-450.
- RAM 3500HD Laramie Longhorn
The Laramie Longhorn is the luxury version of the 3500 HD. It comes with heated and ventilated leather seats, 8.4-inch Uconnect touchscreen with Apple Carplay and Android Auto and a wood trimmed interior.
Under the bonnet is has a 410HP engine with 930 lb-ft of torque and a towing capacity of 30 000 lbs, similar to the 3500HD.
This luxury comes at a price though, and you will have to cough up an extra $15000 to afford the Laramie Longhorn, compared to the standard RAM 3500HD.
- GMC Sierra 3500HD
The GMC Sierra is designed with price in mind and costs a good $20 000 less than the more expensive Fords and RAMs. It has a 23 000 lbs towing capacity and a Vortec 6.0L V8 engine that produces 360 HP and 380 lb-ft of torque.
Off-roading tips for dually’s
- Increase the width of the front tires as this provides better grip in 4WD. This is particularly useful in sandy soil.
- Deflate the tires to increase surface traction in sand. This includes the front and rear tires. You will need to inflate all six tires again once you are done though!
- Make sure to drive in 4WD on icy surfaces to prevent slipping a sliding, especially with a trailer attached.
- Consider super singles for back tires when driving through mud to prevent mud caking in between the two tires and turning your back wheels in useless mud balls.
- The super singles are also useful on very rocky roads, as it prevents small rocks getting stuck in-between the two rear tires and popping them.
- Be wise, know you trucks shortcomings off road and do not take it where it cannot go!
In summary, those who own a dually swear by them on any terrain, and while some SRW drivers remain skeptical, if you drive carefully, your dually will take you just about anywhere…and it will bring a heavy loaded trailer or camper along for the ride.